wannabetvwriter

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Thursday, February 23, 2012

Being Kyle Killen

So, listen. I want to crawl around in Kyle Killen's mind for a minute. See what goes on in there. He seems to be fascinated by the same subject that takes up a lot of my brain space.

For me, it started with "Sliding Doors." A movie I've mentioned in this blog a number of times. In some ways, it's the Butterfly Effect (not the movie) or Chaos Theory. The idea that a small moment begets chaos. And that chaos, in this movie, splits Gwyneth Paltrow's life in two. Essentially, she's living two parallel lives. And in this, her two paths lead her to the same ending in vastly different ways (oh hey, John Hannah!).

Years later, Liz Tigelaar wrote a fantastic pilot called, "Split Decision." It was, essentially, the same idea. On her first day of a new high school, in the lunch line, a girl's life splits in two. In one life, she becomes the popular girl. In the other, she's the nerd. Presumably for the series, we would watch her navigate her parallel lives. Not only did I want to watch this, I desperately wanted to write for it. Alas, it was not to be, as the network gods chose not to pick it up. I wonder what their parallel lives would be if they'd chosen to pick it up? I bet it would've been a smash hit! I mean, come on... I have great taste in all things but men.

Fast forward to Kyle Killen's pilot, "Lone Star." This was not necessarily about a man who led parallel lives, but it kinda was. I mean, it wasn't some magical reason. The dood chose to live these parallel lives. He was a con-man. Married in one city, dating a woman in another. He was going in for the long con, while dealing with some serious internal and external struggles. I believe the show got yanked after two episodes. A real shame, because it was amazing.

ASIDE: I understand TV is a business, that money needs to be made. I also understand that some shows need time. To grow, to flourish, to build an audience. It's heart-breaking to see network shows that have so much potential get tossed out with the bath water. I'm wracking my brains to think of any cable show that got yanked before its time. "Party Down" comes to mind. I love me some Rob Thomas, and that show was hilarious, but, perhaps, too insular. It still got two seasons. It still got a chance.

ANYWAY.

So last year, I read this pilot by Killen. It was called "R.E.M." I had no idea what it was going to be about, and I'll admit, I thought it might be about Michael Stipe. It wasn't. It was about a guy living parallel lives. A man who was in a horrific car accident with his wife and teenaged son. In one of his lives, his wife is still alive. In the other, his son. In both lives, he sees psychologists, but both psychologists are vastly different in their approach. One psychologist believes that this is the man's coping mechanism, that the other life is just an intricate way for his brain to deal with losing his son. Grief can wreak havoc on one's psyche. In the other life, the psychologist believes the guy is leading two lives. Also? The man's a detective. And in both lives, he's working a case. But two separate cases, that actually inform the other.

This pilot, as you may have guessed is, "Awake." It will air in March on NBC. A much better title, in my opinion. I recently watched the pilot, as NBC has put it up on their site and iTunes is offering it for free. I liked it a lot, but didn't love it. And I can't put my finger on it. It was beautifully shot. Pretty well acted. Pretty great direction. But something was just... off. And I worry that it will get yanked before it can find its footing.

After some thought, I'm beginning to wonder if it's NBC. The fact that it's a network show. I can't escape the feeling that Kyle Killen's incredible scripts deserve the care and nurturing that a cable network could provide. I mean, clearly the man is a brilliant writer. But I think the pilot is too glossy, too produced. It needs an indie feel. The room to really get deep inside this man's psyche. To get dirty and scary. There was one moment, where he doesn't know which life he's in. And he can't find either his wife or his son. And he flips the fuck out. But the moment is short-lived. And it's got a series of quick cuts and jump cuts to help us feel as disoriented as he does. But... it's pretty. And slick. And very network-y. And I feel like on Showtime or f/x, it wouldn't be like this. It would be gritty and dark. Like a show about a man who's lost his wife or son should be. Or a man investigating a little girl's disappearance should be.

Or like the script was.

Basically, I would kill to write for one of Killen's shows. Even if it meant I'd only be employed for a few months. But I would like to encourage Killen to develop relationships with the execs over at some of the cable networks, because frankly? I'd like to see him have a long-running series.

Maybe in his parallel life he does.

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